Gatherings. More, and more family gatherings.
It likely seems like you’re meeting or reuniting with every relative you have, every weekend, during the holiday season. The holiday season can be fun (and also difficult) because of this. Typically, this kind of annual catching up is something that’s easy to anticipate. You get to find out what everybody’s been up to all year.
But those family get-togethers may feel less inviting when you have hearing loss. What’s the reason for this? How will your hearing loss affect you when you’re at family gatherings?
Hearing loss can interfere with your ability to communicate, and with other people’s ability to communicate with you. The resulting feelings of alienation can be especially disheartening and stressful around the holidays. Hearing specialists and professionals have formulated some go-to tips that can help make your holidays more pleasant, and more rewarding, when you have hearing loss.
Tips to help you enjoy the holiday season
During the holidays, there’s so much to see, like decorations, gifts, food and so much more. But there are not only things to see, but also things to hear: how your nephew is doing in school, how your cousin’s pond hockey team is doing, and on, and on.
These tips are meant to help make sure you keep having all of those moments of reconnection during the course of holiday get-togethers.
Use video chat instead of phone calls
For family and friends, Zoom video calls can be a great way to keep in touch. That’s particularly true if you have hearing loss. If you have hearing loss and you want to touch base with loved ones over the holidays, try utilizing video calls instead of traditional phone calls.
Phones present an interesting dilemma when it comes to hearing loss and communication difficulties. The voice that comes through the phone speaker can sound muffled and difficult to understand, and that makes what should be a pleasant phone call annoying indeed. You won’t have better audio quality from a video call, but you will at least have visual clues to help figure out what’s being said. Conversations will have a better flow on video calls because you can read lips and use facial expressions.
Be honest with people
It isn’t uncommon for people to suffer from hearing loss. If you need help, it’s essential to communicate that! It doesn’t hurt to ask for:
- Conversations to happen in quieter areas of the gathering (more on this in a bit).
- Your friends and family to speak a bit slower.
- People to repeat what they said, but asking that they rephrase too.
When people are aware that you have hearing loss, they’re less likely to become aggravated if you need something repeated more than once. As a result, communication tends to flow a little bit smoother.
Select your areas of conversation carefully
During the holidays, there are always topics of conversation you want to steer clear of. So you’re cautious not to say anything that would offend people, but instead, wait for them to bring up any sensitive subject matter. Similarly, you should try to cautiously select spaces that are quieter for conversations.
Here’s how to handle it:
- By the same token, keep your discussions in settings that are well-lit. If there isn’t adequate light, you won’t be able to pick up on context clues or read lips.
- There will be quieter spots in the home where you have conversations. Perhaps that means moving away from the noisy television or removing yourself from areas of overlapping conversations.
- When you choose a spot to sit, try to put a back to a wall. That way, there’ll be less background noise for you to have to deal with.
- You’re looking for spaces with less commotion. This’ll make it easier to concentrate on the lips of the individuals talking to you (and help you read lips as a result).
Okay, okay, but what if your niece begins talking to you in the loud kitchen, where you’re topping off your mug with holiday cocoa? There are a few things you can do in cases like these:
- Politely start walking to an area of the gathering place where you can hear and concentrate better. Be certain to mention that’s what you’re doing.
- Ask your niece to continue the conversation someplace where it’s a bit quieter.
- You can politely ask the host, if there is music playing, to turn it down so you can hear what your niece is saying.
Communicate with the flight crew
So, you’re thinking: what are the effects of hearing loss at family gatherings that aren’t as obvious? Like the ones that sneak up on you.
Many people fly around during the holidays, it’s especially essential for families that are fairly spread out. When you fly, it’s crucial to comprehend all the directions and communication coming from the flight crew. Which is why it’s extra crucial to tell the flight crew that you have problems hearing or have hearing loss. In this way, the flight crew can offer you visual instructions if needed. It’s important that you don’t miss anything when flying!
When you have hearing loss, communication can be a lot of effort. You may find yourself growing more fatigued or exhausted than you once did. So taking regular breaks is essential. This will give your ears, and, maybe more importantly, your brain, a little bit of time to catch a breath.
Consider investing in hearing aids
How are relationships affected by hearing loss? Hearing loss has a considerable affect on relationships.
One of the major advantages of hearing aids is that they will make almost every interaction with your family through the holidays easier and more fulfilling. And no more asking people to repeat themselves.
In other words, hearing aids will help you reconnect with your family.
It could take some time to get used to your new hearing aids. So it’s advisable that you pick them up well in advance of your holiday plans. Of course, everybody’s experience will be different. But we can help you with the timing.
You don’t need to get through the holidays alone
When you have hearing loss, sometimes, it can feel like no one can relate to what you’re going through, and that you have to get through it all alone. It’s as if hearing loss is affecting your personality in this way. But there’s help. We can help you navigate many of these dilemmas.
The holidays don’t need to be a time of worry or nervousness (that is, any more than they typically are). With the correct approach, you can look forward to seeing, and hearing, your family during this time of year.